During an awards ceremony for journalists, replete with organic finger foods served by a black-owned caterer and a roaming saxophonist playing the latest smooth jazz tunes, South Florida Times investigative reporter Elgin Jones snagged three coveted commendations on Saturday at the South Florida Black Journalists Association’s annual awards and scholarship reception.
Jones won awards in every category in which his work was entered, including the Breaking News category for his scoop on the fact that the Angela Savage murder was solved in Deerfield Beach, in the Enterprise category for his coverage of the Broward Black Elected Officials, Inc. and in the Community Impact category for his coverage of the “Sickness in the Soil” series on contamination in the Durrs neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale.
Mimicking Jamaica’s Olympic track sensation Usain Bolt, Jones exited the stage upon winning his third award with a smile and a confident, three-finger display. (Bolt proudly displayed three fingers to demonstrate his three world-record wins in Beijing.)
Jones said the three, first-place journalism awards answered criticism about the accuracy and fairness of his stories from black politicians who have been the targets of his investigations.
“Being recognized, particularly for our work on the Broward Black Elected Officials, is a testament to the factual and accurate information contained in the articles,’’ Jones said. “I believe it will put to rest any notion that the series of articles on this subject was inaccurate in any way.’’
He continued, “What’s significant is the fact that this competition included television and radio stations, as well as the major daily newspapers, and it confirms the quality of work we are doing at the South Florida Times.’’
Brad Bennett, the newspaper’s executive editor, was named a finalist in the Commentary category for a collection of columns on black men.
The awards, judged by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists, were presented at the historic Lyric Theater in Miami’s Overtown community.
The program featured a special tribute to legendary TV news man Dwight Lauderdale.
A regional chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, the South Florida Black Journalists Association (SFBJA) serves as a source of support and professional guidance for South Florida’s journalists of color.
Greeted by a standing ovation, Lauderdale recalled the organization’s early days 30 years ago. It was then, as it is now, an organization that encourages South Florida’s black journalists to, as Lauderdale said, “Bring their ‘A’ game. The popular former news anchor from Miami’s WPLG Channel 10 spoke candidly to the SFBJA members, especially its veterans, regarding the importance of supporting the organization and its mission.
“I am so thrilled the scholarship efforts in the organization that started many, many years ago have and will continue,” Lauderdale said.
True to his longstanding commitment to the organization, Lauderdale announced that he would be making the first contribution to SFBJA’s new Dwight D. Lauderdale Journalism Scholarship.
“We named the scholarship award for Dwight because he has such a legacy here in South Florida and we thought it was only right to honor that legacy,” SFBJA President Emiene Wright told the South Florida Times.
SFBJA has a history of investing in the talent of young, aspiring journalists. This year’s scholarship recipients: Farin Robinson, Courtenay Tucker, Jennifer Rowe and Jasmine Allen were all recognized for journalistic excellence in their respective high schools and awarded scholarships for their post-secondary educations.
Lauderdale reminded the audience of the importance of serving as mentors to young people.
“You can have all the talent in the world and if no one offers you the opportunity to display that talent, what’s the point? The SFBJA will make sure that for years to come, young black journalists will have that opportunity,” Lauderdale added.
Along with the scholarships, local print and broadcast journalists were recognized for excellence in their respective crafts.
Jones’ awards came in the Division 2 category for newspapers with less than 120,000 circulation.
In the Division 1 category for newspapers with circulations of 120,000 or more, The Miami Herald’s Robert Samuels matched Jones’ trio with awards in the Breaking News, Enterprise and Profile categories for “The Umoja Village’’ series, “A Survivor’s Message” and “Dream Takes Wing,” respectively.
Proceeds from the reception benefited students of African descent who plan to study journalism in college.
Photo: Elgin jones
Editor’s note: The SunSentinel, despite its placement in the Division 2 awards category, has a circulation of 226,591 daily, and 319,103 on Sunday, according to figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
AWARD WINNERS LIST
Here is a complete list of the South Florida Black Journalists Association’s 2008 award winners:
1. Fashion Blog (D-2)- Patrice Yursik (Miami New Times), “Pretty in the City” series.
2. Sports Blog (D-2)- Omar Kelly (South Florida Sun-Sentinel), Miami Dolphins series.
1. Rod Hagwood and Tiffany Ellis, (D-2, South Florida Sun-Sentinel); “The Fabulous Report”
1. Robert Samuels (D-1, The Miami Herald), Umoja Village Series:
a. “Umoja Village burns to ground”
b. “Umoja’s displace struggle to unite”
2. Elgin Jones (D-2, South Florida Times), Series on Angela Savage Murder:
a. “Angela Savage Murder”
b. “DNA evidence leads to arrest in 21-year-old Deerfield murder”
c. “Family knew accused killer”
1. Robert Samuels (D-1, The Miami Herald), “A Survivor’s Message”
2. Elgin Jones (D-2, South Florida Times), Broward Black Elected Officials series:
a. “Elected officials operated from City Hall”
b. “Nonprofit group took political positions”
c. “BBEO under criminal probe”
1. Jennifer Mooney Piedra (D-1, The Miami Herald), “Missing Stepha”
2. Janine Zeitlin (D-2, formerly of the Miami New Times), “101 Haitian refugees sailed North full of hope. They got screwed.”
1. Bob Norman (D-1, New Times, Broward Palm Beach), “Gang Tackled”
2. Isaiah Thompson (D-2, formerly of Miami New Times), “Grady and the Champ”
1. Chuck Strouse (D-2, Miami New Times), “Runaway Reporter”
1. Robert Samuels (D-1, The Miami Herald), “Dream Takes Wing”
2. Tamara Lush (D-2, formerly of Miami New Times), “Voodoo Child”
1. Trenton Daniel (D-1, The Miami Herald), “Battling the Streets”
2. Elgin Jones (D-2, South Florida Times), Sickness in the Soil series:
a. “More tests and restricted outdoor activities for Lauderdale neighborhood”
b. “Governor’s office reviews report on toxins in the Durrs neighborhood”
c. “Local governments begin to take action on Durrs neighborhood toxins”
1. Natalia Zea (WFOR-CBS 4), Series on low-income, urban neighborhoods:
a. “Real Miami”
b. “Narcotics Officers”
c. “Liberty City”
Source: South Florida Black Journalists Association